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Post Abortion Syndrome: Short-Term vs. Long-Term Follow Up A Review of the Literature

1 August 2007


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare results of short-term with long-term follow up studies on the emotional and psychological responses of women to elective abortion. The effects of elective abortion on the mental health of women have been researched for decades. However, most of the earlier studies had only short term follow up (6 months). Current researchers are now finding that some women present with psychological symptoms years after the abortion, with the time variable dependent upon a woman's coping skills.

Hypothesis: The expectation is that results of long-term follow up studies will reveal a more significant number of women with psychological distress following an elective abortion than short-term follow up studies.

Method: Articles on the topic of Post Abortion Syndrome were found in PubMed. Long-term and short-term follow up studies conducted in more recent years were selected. There are limited long-term follow up studies at this time.

Results: A significant number of women presented with negative psychological responses to abortion at the time of follow up in both long-term and short-term studies. Many short-term studies have concluded that majority of women have a positive experience, with feelings of relief and satisfaction in their decision to abort. However, the studies commonly observed avoidance behaviors in women, and reported high attrition rates (>50%), likely representing the population of participants who coped well with the procedure. Long-term follow up studies consistently revealed a greater number of women with post abortion psychological distress at time of follow up compared to short term studies.

Conclusion: Further long-term studies and better methodology is needed in order to identify women who suffer from psychological and emotional responses to an elective abortion. Due to high attrition rates, avoidance behaviors, and lack of long-term follow up, the actual number continues to remain unknown.


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